Intel i7-3770K Ivy Bridge CPU Review

Author: MAC
Date: April 23, 2012
Product Name: i7-3770K
Warranty: 3 Years
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We don’t think that it is an exaggeration to say that people have been talking about Ivy Bridge seemingly since the day that Sandy Bridge was launched back in January 2011. All this hype has been understandable though, for a number of reasons. This is Intel’s first new manufacturing process since January 2010, when they launched the innovative Clarkdale processors. Not only were these the first chips to be manufactured on the then cutting-edge 32nm process, but they were also the very first processors to integrate a GPU onto the CPU package. With Sandy Bridge, Intel took things a little further, sticking with the proven 32nm process, but continuing the march towards a true System-on-Chip (SoC) by integrating the GPU portion onto the CPU die itself, which was the logical and inevitable outcome.

Today, Intel is officially unveiling Ivy Bridge, and it is a significant launch. Not only is Ivy Bridge manufactured on the brand new 22nm manufacturing process, which is so technologically innovative that it became its own news story back in May of last year - surely you all heard about Tri-Gate or 3D transistors - but it also features some worthwhile microarchitectural changes. With AMD out of serious contention for the foreseeable future, Intel could have simply started manufacturing Sandy Bridge LGA1155 on the new 22nm process, produced more dies on each 300mm water, reaped in the profits and called it a day. After all, the company’s innovation strategy only called for a ‘tick’ step, which is supposed to merely be a shrinking of the previous microarchitecture. However, they instead decided to address the only part of Sandy Bridge that isn't essentially perfect - the integrated GPU. So while there is no great revolution on the CPU side of Ivy Bridge, Intel claims up to a 15% increase, the IGP has been heavily reworked and enhanced in every way.

The pinnacle of all that work is the chip that we are reviewing today, the flagship Core i7-3770K. This multiplier-unlocked part features a 3.5GHz default clock speed, Turbo capabilities up to 3.9GHz, and 8MB of L3 cache. So at first glance, this new processor doesn’t really distinguish itself from the Core i7-2700K, which has the same 3.5GHz default / 3.9GHz Turbo clock frequencies, and identical L1/L2/L3 cache sizes. However, the slight performance tweaks that Intel have made to IVB's cores can't really be illustrated numerically. Since we really did not have any complaints about any areas of SB's CPU performance to begin with, we we can appreciate the fact that they mostly focused on lowering power consumption, as evidenced by the 77W TDP. This is a significant 23% drop when compared to the 95W quad-core Sandy Bridge parts, and should set a new standard for performance per watt. The default memory speed has been bumped up to DDR3-1600, just like on Sandy Bridge-E, so that already has the potential to provide a nice performance boost, especially on the graphics side.

Speaking of which, the new top-end HD Graphics 4000 IGP has 16 Execution Units (EUs) and a maximum frequency of 1.15GHz. Now that might not sound like much of an improvement when compared to the previous HD Graphics Card 3000 ( 12 EUs – up to 1.35GHz), but these new EU's are about twice as powerful as their predecessors, and altogether Intel is claiming an up to 60% increase in GPU performance. The new Ivy Bridge GPU brings forth compatibility with DirectX 11, OpenCL 1.1, OpenGL 3.1, improved Quick Sync Video performance, and support for three display outputs. Whether it is on-par with AMD have achieved with their Llano A-series APUs is what we are here to find out.


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